Working out how much a doctor earns in the UK, given the pay scale, can be confusing. After tax however, junior doctors (those in foundation years or equivalent roles) can expect to earn between £2000-£3000 monthly (£24K – £36K yearly). But this depends on varying factors.
This article seeks to explain how taxation works on doctors salaries in the UK, while also comparing it to the national average.
I hope, as a UK national myself, that I can then give you some kind of estimate on how you might live, comfort-wise, starting out as a doctor in my home country.
Let’s face it; we need you!
How Much Does a Junior Doctor Earn in the UK?
The answer to the question of how much a junior doctor earns in the UK is not as straightforward as you might have hoped.
Pay can vary, due to the following factors:
- Where you are on the pay scale (more on this later)
- Tax deduction (varies according to your “grade”)
- Unsocial hours worked (“banding“)
- Whether you work in London
For doctors new to the country who are planning to take the UKMLA though, this is useful information. But also depends on your level of existing experience and at which grade you plan on entering the NHS.
Also note that anything in the UK below consultant or GP level, is considered “junior level”.
According to the NHS’ own website, “doctors in training” can expect the following however:
In Foundation training, you will earn a basic salary of £28,243 to £32,691 (from 1 April 2020).
While this is what it states for those starting out in specialist training (after foundation level):
If you’re a doctor starting your specialist training in 2020 your basic salary will be £38,693 to £49,036.
London-based trusts also pay their junior doctors more based on “London-weighting”. Something referred to as a “high cost area supplement”. Which also has several levels to it (depending on how central you are).
You can learn more about that here.
How Much Do Junior Doctors Earn After Tax?
Taxation exists in the UK as a way to fund healthcare and education. Which is available (effectively) for free to its citizens and various foreign workers (doctors included) depending on their contracts.
Depending on your grade as a junior doctor in the NHS, there will be a 17-27% tax deduction on your salary. Those more advanced in their careers – those further along in grades – will be closer to the 27% end of this scale. And vice versa.
Tax years run from April to April in the UK. While there are two forms of tax deductions from your salary; income tax and national insurance. The first includes a 20% tax deduction on salaries up to £46,350. The latter a 12% deduction. Combined though, due to the fact that initial earnings (usually up to 10,000) are tax-free, the actual deduction is in this 20-25% range of a juniors salary.
You can confirm all this via the UK government’s income tax rate information here.
Foundation year doctors (those FY1 grade or equivalent) in their first year of British healthcare report an after tax salary of about £2000 per month in London. With those outside the capital reporting a little less.
And an FY2 grade (or equivalent) doctor can expect around £2200 per month outside of London.
To be sure of what you’ll make after tax though it’s best to check with an online tax calculator (like The Salary Calculator). And don’t forget to factor in pension payments too if you’ve decided to opt in.
Also remember that these figures are estimations taken from reported after-tax salaries of doctors. And it’s difficult to give an average.
How Does the Pay Scale Work for Junior Doctors?
The pay scales involved in working as a doctor in the UK advance alongside your career. As you progress from junior to specialist, you’ll see an increase in after tax pay.
More information on exactly how these pay scales work is again listed on the NHS careers website.
Roughly though, speciality doctors (those completing their foundation year (FY1 and FY2) or equivalent contracts) earn anything between £40K – £75K per annum. After tax this could equate to £2600 – £4300 per month.
Consultants and GP’s earn higher still. But also fall into a higher taxation bracket. Discussing their possible after tax pay is beyond the scope of this article (although you can find a good estimation here).
What is The UK Average Salary in 2020?
Assessing the UK average salary for 2020, is difficult at the time of writing, given the lack of clear data.
Going back to the UK’s National Office for Statistics 2019/20 data however, the figure stands at around £30K per year.
Not too far off a first year junior doctors basic salary.
Based on this figure it’s fairly safe to assume that you can expect a comfortable living (national-standard) as a doctor beginning your career in the UK. And also one, given the increasing pay scale, that’s near certain to improve as you advance.
Of course all this data is based on the fact you fulfil your basic working contract only. It doesn’t factor in outside earnings or locum earnings. Which could increase your after tax salary as a junior even further.
To conclude; the after tax salary of a junior doctor (in their first couple of years out of medical school) in the UK is healthy compared to the national average.
Actual earnings are hard to quantify given the differing factors that go into calculations. Those unsure about potential after tax earnings should use many of the free tax calculation tools available online.
The bottom line though; you’ll live just as well (if not better) than your average UK citizen.
So join us, make plans to take the UKMLA and hopefully I’ll see you as a future colleague!